It must be tough to survive in the religious marketplace out there, competing with other progressive chapels for the gay Catholic demographic; and especially so when you don’t have any other clientele. The Jesuits in Boston have announced the planned closure of their city church in the South End neighborhood, the Jesuit Urban Center.
Besides a general decline in the gay-Catholic market segment, credit for the Jesuits’ downtown defeat probably has to go to the Franciscans of Holy Name Province. St. Anthony Shrine moved into the gay-friendly market a few years ago, making for a three-way competition against the Jesuits and the Paulists who have catered to dissenting Catholics downtown for over 30 years. The Shrine’s broad-based weekday Mass attendance, heavily trafficked location, and extensive service hours probably give it a stronger position than either of its two competitors, so St. Anthony’s is probably best situated to endure for years to come. In contrast, the JUC had only one Mass per week, with a congregation of 150-200 confused souls.
|Jester Hat Tip:||RC at Catholic Light|
Predominately the headlines I have seen on this story say "Jesuits closing Boston church that serves many gays." Which seems rather odd for a parish with one Mass a week and less than 200 parishioners and even if every one of them had same-sex attraction it still isn’t very many.
"A lot of people are still in the church because of the Jesuits," Regan said. "We do not want to abandon these people. But there’s a spirit among this group, and I think that’s going to be lost, and that’s very sad."
I guess my definition of "a lot" varies from theirs.
Too bad they didn’t cater to young couples with small children; that’s what saves a parish. 🙂
When you are a propagandist for a position, you always tend to inflate the size of your forces.
And most reporters are propagandists for the “gay forces.”
I’ve heard a lot of Jesuit bashing since reading Catholic blogs and I’m sure there are dissenting members of all Orders. But my locas *Courage* chapter has a Jesuit chaplain that is a good and holy priest, who even moonlights occasionally for the Ruthenian Byzantines here in St. Louis. Can’t get much more Orthodox than that! Also, I take issue with MissJean’s comment that what saves a parish are couples with small children. Maybe I’m being a little oversensitive, but I have a difficult time finding a place for myself within my parish specifically because I’m single with no children. I will always be single with no children, and parish groups I’ve tried to join just don’t know what “to do” with the single SSA (same-sex attracted) guy. I know of widows & widowers, divorced/separated, “searching singles” and “confirmed bachelors” just like me. While parents with small children are needed in parish life, I think it’s the Holy Spirit that saves a parish through the lives of all its members. Every “single” one of us counts! God Bless.
Jeron, you have an issue with me?!? Ooo, this would lead to fisticuffs, but there’s no cyber equivalent of “outside by the bikerack next to the flagpole”! 🙂
Seriously, I’ve been in four parishes (so far) and the ones that made the biggest rebounds were those that had children in it. There’s something about the duty of passing on our faith to the next generation that rejuvenates tired old parishes and makes them put the effort into keeping the schools open and renovating the buildings. I’ve only been in my current parish four years, but I feel more welcome as a single than I ever have, even in college chapels and areas with predominantly unmarried parishioners.
MissJean, I’m sincerely happy for you. Like I said, this my issue I guess.
I don’t know about “catering to” couples with children, but certainly parishes do come alive and GROW when children and young adults are welcomed and the word spreads. That doesn’t exclude, but includes most warmly, single people, just as nieces and nephews embrace their single aunts and uncles. A fruitful parish is a happy parish.
That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be events specifically for single folks, though, or liturgies that are not particularly child-friendly. A trait of single people, or anyone who hasn’t been around little kids lately, is that their tolerance for noise is lower and so they get irritated (and sometimes furious) when children rattle, squeak, squawk, and wail.
Not your issue. And I have taken issue with the Jesuit-bashing as well. This post is actually neutral in that regard, as it is only reporting not parodying Jesuit transgressions. I have found myself out-of-place in both types of parishes. In the university parish, I am a grad student, which means neither faculty nor student. However, I am also married and a parent, which elicits various responses and levels of neglect. (I didn’t fit into the grad student group because I wasn’t spouse-hunting!) In the more family-oriented parishes, I felt that I was not professional or “Mommy” enough!! But I did get fewer dirty looks when my child made noises! Now that I have a younger child, I am more sufficiently “Mommy,” though I still don’t quite fit the mold. But who does, completely? Just wanted to share your pain a bit, though. It might be my own comfort level that is lacking as you suggest. Then again, maybe not… (I almost said in response to this post earlier that the woman who objected to my baby sitting in the row near her yesterday might enjoy a parish like the one described, with no children. But I didn’t. Okay, so I did…)
I’d just like to make it clear that there are some very orthodox Franciscans down at St. Anthony’s Shrine, despite some bad apples. As for the Jesuit Urban Center (JUC), good riddance. The abuses that went on down there were flagrant.
You gave your hat tip to Heart Mind and Strength instead of RC at Catholic
Light. Here’s the link:
(I know…picky, picky.)
You’re right about the orthodox Franciscans at the Shrine (or as we
irreverently used to call it, “The Prayer Factory”) but they’re up against a
wall in many ways, as I’m sure you know.
A blessed Easter to you,
Indeed, there are still some solid friars at the Prayer Factory, but the current leadership there has been promoting “L/G spirituality groups”, L/G brunches, etc. Is it true that a Courage group also meets at the Shrine?
And while I cheerfully give the current generation of Jesuits verbal “bashing” in general, of course there are some excellent and orthodox ones doing good work: I’ve met at least four.
Of the three groups running “progressive” chapels, the Paulists do the most to offer services for families: they present their community as a quasi-parish and offer CCD and RCIA classes.
I get the impression that people annoyed by the current trend at St. Anthony’s have tended to move to the more mainstream and conservative options: the OMV’s chapel in the Prudential Center Mall and the (Redemptorists’) Mission Church near Brigham Circle. I suppose the Marists’ little Lourdes Chapel off Kenmore Square is still open too.
Thank you for remembering that there are some “solid” Franciscans still left at the Shrine. My uncle worked there for many years and as someone put it–the “solid” ones are up against a wall….please don’t lump the whole province in with the few you see there. There are many faithful Friars, and they are a big inspiration to me as a Franciscan.
In response to RC’s comment: Courage, founded by Fr. John Harvey OSFS, is actually a *good* thing to have meeting at the Shrine, especially if certain Friars are taking too liberal a stance regarding SSA. I knew Fr. Harvey for a year while he was in FL, and his group is quite orthodox. It’s “Dignity” that needs to be watched. They have blatantly disregarded the Church’s teaching on same-sex activity, and have often attacked Fr. Harvey’s ministry in their own ‘apostolate.’ Just a clarification.
Jeron-I know what you mean about single adults in parishes. I’m older than you (52), and I was involved in several parishes in my Upstate New York hometown. Mostly liturgical-lector, music (choir, then cantor). But now I go to an indult Latin Mass chapel on Sunday. Our group is hoping for a place of its own, with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to staff it. Right now we don’t really have a ‘parish life’ because we just rent the chapel space out-it’s in a former convent.
I went to St. Anthony’s in Boston back in 1986, when my mother and I went on a bus tour to the annual Flower Show. Some of the Catholics in the group went to the Paulists’ church-wooo, they came back with some horror stories! I also know about the OMV chapel at the Prudential Plaza and the Marists’ Lourdes chapel, though I haven’t actually attended Mass there.
Don’t forget St Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine, down by Boylston and Mass Ave.
I wonder if part of the issue with parishes ‘not knowing what to do’ with SSA parishioners mightn’t be that they’re concerned about being near occasions of sin? Not that SSAs are somehow more prone to temptation than straights, but I’m trying to envision planning an event that caters to SSA parishioners without the risk of it turning into a pickup place for unscrupulous trolls.
Although as I’m thinking about it, I guess the same risk is present for singles groups – the main difference is that a straight couple has the chance to get married down the road, whereas SSAs don’t. But I can see how pastors and administrative staff would be leery of trying to address the issue.
Jeron, since you’ve been very open about being a member of Courage, may I ask whether starting a Courage chapter at your parish wouldn’t be an option? Other than that, it seems to me that the ministry/involvement opportunities for SSAs would be about the same as for any straight parishioner: sponsor RCIA, become a Eucharistic minister, bring the Eucharist to the homebound, make rosaries with the Legion of Mary, etc…
Hi Kasia! Thanks for the suggestions. I tried sponsoring someone in RCIA once. They paired me with one person whose spouse couldn’t make the meetings, so I became his sponsor. It was awkward and forced. And my parish RCIA program was big on “sharing experiences” and short on catechesis. That was 7 years ago though & I do hope it has improved. My issues with my parish have more to do with constantly having to explain to people, as they get to know me, my “situation.” “Why are you single?” “Do you think you’ll ever change?” etc. Most parish organizations are couple and/or family centered, and singles of any ilk get shuffled to the side. It’s even worse when the reason you’re single is because of “that issue” that seemingly everyone hates to discuss and just do not know how to broach. A parish *Courage* group would not be a good idea for the reasons you intimated. My *Courage* group is my “Church group,” so to speak. I think I’ll look into your suggestion of bringing the Eucharist to the homebound, though. Thanks.
As a former single, I remember feeling left out too, untill I got involved in ministries. Find one that fits for you, Jeron. I know that those who bring Communion to the home bound find it very rewarding, and many graces are recieved. Perhaps one way to deal with feeling lonely/left out is to bring Our Lord to lonely home bound people.
I’d have to agree with Lynne. St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine is a wonderful place. I often credit the OMVs down there for saving my soul (and of course the hours spent in front of Jesus)